|This hike occurred August 8, 2012|
Corner of Pisgah Rd and Sand Hill Rd, Durham, CT – Parking: This technically isn’t a trail head but I was perfectly happy parking on the side of the road. There is a sizable shoulder (there’s enough room to have the car completely off the road) and no signs saying you can’t park there. We didn’t have any problems and saw other cars parked there too.
Crooked Hill Rd., Guilford, CT – Parking: So we ended up parking on the side of the road here. There was a dirt road (I believe Old Crooked Hill Rd) that led to a trail head but there were lots of “no trespassing” signs on the trees and we weren’t sure if those were telling us to stay on the road or get out. So we decided to be safe and park on the road… not that it mattered in the end anyway.
Length/Distance: This is a bit complicated. The hike we set out to complete was 3.5-4 miles long. We were going to hike the Blue trail from Pisgah Rd to Lone Pine Trail which was supposed to lead to Crooked Hill Rd according to the map. Sadly, something went wrong. We looked for the Lone Pine trail but never saw it. We did see a very clear sign indicating that the Lone Pine trail was behind us by over a mile but that wasn’t helpful. According to the CT Walk book, the hike we ended up doing should have been 6.7 miles. Our route was approximately 7.7 miles.
Summary: As noted above, this hike didn’t go as planned. We packed water to last us 3-4 miles and didn’t bring any snacks because it should have been only 1-1/2 hours of hiking at most. Up to about the 3 mile mark, things were going as planned. We began on Pisgah Rd and hiked on the road towards the trail head. We saw some nice flowers on the side of the road.
As soon as we entered the woods, the trail climbed pretty sharply. We climbed straight to the summit of Mt Pisgah and were rewarded with some beautiful views.
It was obvious this was a popular spot with the local young ones.
Up near the top of the mountain, there was a very nice clearing with soft spongy moss and flat ground that was clearly a popular place to camp (even though camping is not technically allowed).
We then descended into a ravine with a creek at the bottom. We found many cute little frogs hopping around on the trail.
We soon came to the sign for Cream Pot Road and the access trail split off from the main trail.
There was then an extremely steep section of trail which led us out to a slanted section of rock called the Mica Ledges.
This provided some great views.
We could even see where we parked our car at Crooked Hill Rd (upper left near the tree). We could tell we must be getting close to the intersection with the Lone Pine trail split from the main blue trail. We were out of water by this point but not worried because we were almost done….right?
We then descended a section of trail that was rather dangerous. It was steep, covered in tiny pebbles, and required a lot of acrobatics to negotiate.
A bit after this, we came to the Charcoal Site. According to the Rockland Preserve Trail Guide, the Charcoal Site is located on the Houston Trail which is red-blazed.
After a bit of hiking, we came upon these signs which crushed any hopes we’d had about getting out of the woods by sunset (8pm). We began our hike around 5:30pm and had expected to be done with the hike by 6:30-7pm.
We began calling friends because we realized that not only would we be leaving the woods after dark, we also would be about 3 miles away from where we parked our car. We were able to find someone who would come and pick us up and bring us water. Because we were super-thirsty by this point! We picked up our pace even more, trying to get as far as possible before the light failed. We came upon this sign which I thought was hilarious.
After hiking this section of the trail, I have to tell you, there weren’t any big scary cliffs or drop-offs. I’ve seen much, much worse trails all along the Mattabesett and on other trails like Sleeping Giant and NO ONE has ever posted one of these signs, even when they might have been helpful. I was rather delirious by this point so I thought it was funny.
From here on out, we just hiked like there was no tomorrow. It became very dark very quickly under the covers of the trees. There were a lot of hills to climb (which might have been the Broomstick Ledges). Eventually, we came to a steep downhill section that led us to Rt 77 and the Bluff Head trail head, right next to Bluff Head Cemetery.
Here, we waited for a friend to pick us up. Our dog was exhausted, as were we. I had progressively developed heat exhaustion. I felt nauseous, light headed, dizzy, muddled, and was sweating profusely. Thankfully, our friend brought a lot of cool water and sports drinks. This helped me get more quickly back to normal. Both my friend and I had blisters on our feet and very painful knee joints by the time the hike was done. These issues persisted for the next week or so.
The next day, our dog was limping badly. I checked his paws and it turns out his metacarpal pad had blistered from walking too much and then torn. I cleaned him up and kept an eye on it over the next few days. Thankfully, it healed quickly. It will probably be a while before we go hiking again. This was an aggravating, painful hike.